It's been quite a wild week leading up to Thursday night's NBA Draft. Jabari Smith Jr. entered the week as the betting favorite to go No. 1, the position he was in essentially since the Orlando Magic won the lottery. Then Paolo Banchero's odds steadily rose in recent days, to the point where early Thursday morning he actually overtook the Auburn forward as the betting favorite at Caesars Sportsbook.
But that lasted only a few hours.
The betting market was even taken off the board odds for No. 1, 2 and 3 after ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported that Smith -- despite late line movement -- was still the expected favorite to go No. 1 with Chet Holmgren and Banchero likely to go No. 2 and No. 3 to OKC and Houston, respectively. So in our final pre-draft mock that's the exact order we projected them to go in our mock draft. However, there's still several tweaks to our final two-round projections -- including a few changes to the top 10 and a new order in the second round after several trades.
Round 1 - Pick 1
Jabari Smith PF
Auburn • 6'11" / 220 lbs
There's at least *some* concern over the diversity with which Smith will score in the NBA -- he struggled at the rim in college and primarily was used as a catch-and-shoot weapon -- but his positional size and above average shooting are among the most translatable skills a prospect has in this class. At 6-10 he's an elite shooting threat from anywhere on the court and a very safe bet to be a valuable two-way player in the NBA. Betting markets have him going No. 1, and that seems the most likely outcome at this point for Orlando.
Round 1 - Pick 2
Gonzaga • 7'1" / 195 lbs
The skinny frame and potential injury concerns that come along with it notwithstanding, Holmgren arguably holds the most star power in the draft. He rated in the 94th percentile as a defender around the rim last season and had a top-10 block rate . . as a true freshman. And on offense, he rated in the 99th percentile around the rim. His ability to affect and block shots can make him a cornerstone defensive anchor for a rebooting OKC franchise.
Round 1- Pick 3
Duke • 6'10" / 250 lbs
Houston grabs a future star to add to its frontcourt to pair with 2021 No. 2 pick Jalen Green, one of the most electric young guard prospects in the NBA. Banchero was an All-American in his lone season at Duke, and his playmaking and overall polish on offense at 6-10 can add another exciting dynamic to this young Rockets core. He has No. 1 pick talent, so getting him at 3 would be a huge win.
Round 1 - Pick 4
Jaden Ivey SG
Purdue • 6'4" / 195 lbs
What Sacramento does here at No. 4 remains the biggest question of the draft. But taking best talent available should result in the Kings adding Ivey to a core that includes De'Aaron Fox, Davion Mitchell and Domantas Sobanis. He's an electric athlete who can function as a quality playmaker because of his ability to get downhill and create off the dribble.
Round 1 - Pick 5
Iowa • 6'8" / 225 lbs
If Ivey is off the board here, Detroit takes the safest prospect still on the board in Keegan Murray to add next to Cade Cunningham. Murray was one of the most productive players in college hoops last season and the combination of his size, outside shooting and defense should give him a nice floor as a true four-man at the next level.
Round 1 - Pick 6
Arizona • 6'5" / 210 lbs
Mathurin's had a steady rise over the last month and could be in play as soon as No. 5 in this draft because of his outside shooting, solid frame and defensive potential. Indiana can add him next to Tyrese Haliburton to really solidify its backcourt for the long haul.
Round 1 - Pick 7
After dealing CJ McCollum to New Orleans, Portland adding more playmaking seems the logical move here at No. 7 -- and Dyson Daniels can add plenty. The G League Ignite product is perhaps the most crafty passer in the draft and projects as a solid defender right away because of his length and instincts, with upside to in time develop into a focal point on offense if his shot improves.
From Los Angeles Lakers
Round 1 - Pick 8
AJ Griffin SF
Duke • 6'6" / 220 lbs
New Orleans rated as the 27th-best team in the NBA in team 3-point shooting percentage last season. In Griffin they add one of the best wing shooters in the draft who has legitimate star potential if he's able to find his old high school form and stay healthy. Depending on how his medicals check out, he could go anywhere from No. 5 to outside the lottery.
Round 1 - Pick 9
Memphis • 6'11" / 250 lbs
The Spurs could be looking to add a big at this spot and can get their pick between Duren and Mark Williams. Duren is a springy big man who is a human pogo stick with incredible leaping ability. Duren's shot-blocking and above-the-rim abilities make him a safe bet to be a long-time contributor.
Round 1 - Pick 10
Kentucky • 6'6" / 200 lbs
This would be a further-than-expected fall for Sharpe but a soft landing spot in Washington for a Wizards team that has several young and exciting pieces. Sharpe was the No. 1 player in his class before reclassifying and enrolling at Kentucky at the mid-year point, but not playing while there means scouts haven't gotten an extended look at him since his time as a high-schooler on the EYBL circuit.
Round 1 - Pick 11
Kentucky • 6'3" / 195 lbs
The Knicks need scoring and playmaking and could get a two-for-one combo here in Washington. The former five-star recruit is a knockdown shooter who thrived off the ball at Kentucky but has some untapped talents playing on the ball as a creator and initiator as well; his 27% assist rate in SEC play was 11th among players in his conference -- despite playing almost exclusively as the second initiator.
From Los Angeles Clippers
Round 1 - Pick 12
Dieng had a strong close to the NBL season with the New Zealand Breakers, a team from the same NBL league that once produced LaMelo Ball. He's a combo forward with guard skills. If his outside shot starts falling with regularity he could develop into a borderline star on the wing, he's just quite a ways away from being an NBA contributor right now. Whoever takes him must be patient.
Round 1 - Pick 13
Baylor • 6'9" / 230 lbs
The shot is really the only question mark for Sochan that may be keeping him from being a potential top five prospect in this class. He can guard 1-5 and is a plus playmaker at his position to boot. If the Hornets can develop his shot he could pay off as one of the best talents to come out of this draft.
Round 1 - Pick 14
Ochai Agbaji SG
Kansas • 6'5" / 215 lbs
Cleveland has a young core primed to contend with Darius Garland, Jarrett Allen and Evan Mobley. Agbaji gives the Cavs another piece of key depth on the wing and adds a complementary style to Isaac Okoro as a more offensively polished weapon. He shot 41% from 3-point range last season for KU in leading the Jayhawks to a national title.
From New Orleans Pelicans
Round 1 - Pick 15
Duke • 7'1" / 240 lbs
Grabbing both Sochan and Mark Williams could really solidify Charlotte's long-term frontcourt with incredible defensive potential. Sochan is a switchable defender who can play the 3, 4 and 5, and Williams would give the Hornets a true center who can swat shots as well as any big in the draft.
Round 1 - Pick 16
Ohio State • 6'5" / 180 lbs
Ohio State turned to Branham as one of its go-to options down the stretch run of the season, and he responded by averaging 17.3 points and 3.8 rebounds in the second half of the year. He's a big wing who can torch the net and scores it at a really high level, and now that he's committed to staying in the draft, should be in the mix as a potential lottery pick.
From Brooklyn Nets
Round 1 - Pick 17
Dalen Terry SF
Arizona • 6'7" / 195 lbs
After adding Banchero at No. 3, Houston comes back to add backcourt depth with the addition of one of my favorite talents in Terry. Terry did a little of everything at Arizona as a role player last season primarily playing off the ball and has the length and tools to thrive as a high energy wing who has some wiggle off the dribble and can shoot the 3.
Round 1 - Pick 18
Johnny Davis SF
Wisconsin • 6'5" / 195 lbs
Johnny Davis was one of the most productive players in college hoops last season as a true breakout star in his sophomore season. He thrives as a mid-range scorer, can create his own looks and has the defensive smarts to be an instant contributor for a winning team. If he returns to shooting form he showed as a freshman (38.9% from 3) then he can be one of the best 3-and-D wings in the draft.
Round 1 - Pick 19
Santa Clara • 6'5" / 195 lbs
Williams has been the fastest-rising draft prospect the last month. He measured 6-6 at the combine with a 7-2 wingspan, is coming off a season in which he shot nearly 40% from 3-point range, and rated out in the 97th percentile last season according to Synergy as a spot-up shooter.
From Toronto Raptors
Round 1 - Pick 20
Tari Eason PF
LSU • 6'8" / 215 lbs
Eason is a big combo forward who can space the floor as a shooter and open up the offense as a straight-line driver. His main value, however, comes on defense, where he's a do-it-all weapon with great instincts. He's raw on offense but the physical tools and defense alone could get him into the teens of this draft on potential. San Antonio may be well-equipped to develop that in-house, and I'd love the idea of pairing him next to Jalen Duren.
Round 1 - Pick 21
Baylor • 6'7" / 205 lbs
There's a world in which Brown is drafted in the teens or slips to the 30s and neither would surprise me. He's tough to peg after an up and down freshman season in which he had flashes but was not consistent. His 6-8 frame and athleticism from the wing spot should land him somewhere in the 20s, is my guess.
Round 1 - Pick 22
E.J. Liddell PF
Ohio State • 6'7" / 240 lbs
Memphis' front office has in the past put a high value on college production, making Liddell, one of the most productive players in college hoops the last few seasons, squarely in the mix here (if he's not already taken). Slightly undersized power forward who plays way above his 6-7 frame and has improved dramatically as a shooter the last year.
Round 1 - Pick 23
Wisconsin-Milwaukee • 6'9" / 220 lbs
Baldwin Jr.'s stock is tough to nail down because of injuries that derailed nearly all of his high school senior season and much of his freshman season at Milwaukee. But he has great positional size and a strong pedigree as a former five-star recruit (and once the No. 1 player in his class) which may earn him a spot in the 20s for a team willing to take a gamble on his talent.
Round 1 - Pick 24
Gonzaga • 6'3" / 191 lbs
Nembhard isn't a top-25 talent in the 2022 NBA Draft but he is easily one of the 25 most NBA-ready prospects in the 2022 NBA Draft. That should matter to a Bucks franchise that's in win-now mode trying to maximize its title window with Giannis. Nembhard isn't a blow-by-you athlete but he's a solid point guard who can shoot and distribute well enough to contribute to winning for a contender.
From Boston Celtics
Round 1 - Pick 25
This would purely be a value play for San Antonio to pluck Jovic, one of the most intriguing combination forwards in the draft, at No. 25. He has guard skills -- he ran point last season as one of the primary initiators for Mega Mozzart -- and a center's frame. He's very raw developmentally but having just turned 19 years old, there's a chance he can mature in time to be a valuable initiator given his size.
From Dallas Mavericks
Round 1 - Pick 26
Duke • 6'5" / 215 lbs
It's hard to find instant contributors in the first round, much less at No. 26, but Houston could really grab one here in Moore after a breakout season with Duke. He's a long wing with good 3-point shooting skills and a role-player skillset that'd make him an asset for the Rockets.
Round 1 - Pick 27
Arkansas • 6'9" / 240 lbs
Frontcourt depth beyond Bam Adebayo and PJ Tucker in Miami is sorely lacking, which would make Jaylin Williams an interesting fit with the Heat. A do-it-all big who loves to take charges and provide energy, he does all the little things that contribute to winning and has floor-spacing potential as well.
Round 1 - Pick 28
Golden State's got to be thinking about adding guard depth at some point and Montero, long a prodigious talent from the Dominican Republic, could fit the bill here. He's a speedy guard who groomed himself last season with Overtime Elite and has the combination of scoring and competitiveness that the Warriors tend to gravitate towards.
Round 1 - Pick 29
Josh Minott PF
Memphis • 6'8" / 205 lbs
From Memphis, Tennessee, to Memphis, Tennessee? It's possible for Minott, one of the most toolsy wings in the draft whose length and athleticism gives him real first-round potential. Needs to improve his jumper to maximize his potential -- he made two 3-pointers all season at Memphis -- but he's a developmental talent with starter upside in the right system.
Round 1 - Pick 30
Denver recently acquired this pick via Oklahoma City and can flip it into one of the biggest swings available at 30. Hardy's stock slipped a bit over the last few months because he was inefficient with the G League Ignite, but he's a gifted scorer who can create space and has plenty of room to grow.
From Cleveland Cavaliers
Round 2 - Pick 1 (31st overall)
Trevor Keels SG
Duke • 6'5" / 221 lbs
A physically mature wing who showed flashes of real potential at Duke, Keels gives the Pacers a wing with upside. Had he gone back to school he might have been a lottery pick next year.
Round 2 - Pick 2 (32nd overall)
Arizona • 7'1" / 230 lbs
After passing on Chet Holmgren at No. 1, Orlando comes back to add a true center here with Christian Koloko. Koloko had a 10.3% block rate that ranked 24th in college hoops last season on a team that went on to earn a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament.
From San Antonio Spurs
Round 2 - Pick 3 (33rd overall)
Blake Wesley SG
Notre Dame • 6'5" / 185 lbs
Wesley was a high-volume scorer at Notre Dame whose efficiency overall left a little to be desired, but his combo of size, scoring and movement have NBA evaluators intrigued with his development as a long-term two-way guard who can create.
Round 2 - Pick 4 (34th overall)
Max Christie SG
Michigan State • 6'5" / 190 lbs
Christie has good positional size and a ton of promise long-term as an NBA shot maker. His efficiency as a freshman at Michigan State wasn't great but he looks the part as an NBA 2-guard and can develop in time into an off-ball weapon as he develops his shot. Could be a worthwhile bet for OKC.
From Orlando Magic
Round 2 - Pick 5 (35th overall)
Michigan • 6'8" / 205 lbs
Houstan didn't overwhelm at Michigan as a one-and-done after arriving with five-star expectations, but he shot it better than people give him credit for and has ideal size for a modern-day NBA wing that may make him ready early to contribute on a contender.
Round 2 - Pick 6 (36th overall)
Tennessee • 5'11" / 170 lbs
Detroit moved up 10 spots as part of a trade with Portland that sent Jerami Grant to the Trail Blazers, giving them an opportunity to take a big swing on a prospect with a big pedigree in Kennedy Chandler. Chandler measured just shy of 6-foot at the NBA Draft Combine so may slip into the late first or early second round on draft night because of his smaller frame, but his explosiveness, speed and ability to dictate pace as a lead guard could make him a draft night steal.
Round 2 - Pick 7 (37th overall)
Auburn • 7'1" / 245 lbs
This is lower than the consensus on Kessler, which means the Kings at No. 37 would be getting big bang for their buck here. He's arguably the most skilled shot-smotherer in the entire class after leading college hoops in blocks last season and winning Naismith Defensive Player of the Year honors.
From Chicago Bulls
Round 2 - Pick 8 (38th overall)
As one of the older prospects in this class, Beauchamp may be someone teams put on the backburner as they chase youth and developmental talents. However, his length and athleticism could make him a nice fit in the modern NBA as a wing if his outside shot falls with more regularity.
Round 2 - Pick 9 (39th overall)
Justin Lewis PF
Marquette • 6'7" / 245 lbs
He may be a smidge undersized for an NBA power forward, but Lewis brings physicality and versatility to the table to make him a real NBA prospect. He can score inside and out and is comfortable playing down low despite the height he gives up.
From Cleveland Cavaliers
Round 2 - Pick 10 (40th overall)
Ryan Rollins SG
Toledo • 6'3" / 180 lbs
Rollins is a polished shot-maker who can run the pick-and-roll and has shown good finishing ability dribbling into jumpers. He needs to improve his spot-up shooting and overall 3-point shot to stick, which I'd bet will come as he takes on a smaller role in the NBA, but the various ways in which he can make shots makes him a versatile combo guard.
Round 2 - Pick 11 (41st overall)
Jake LaRavia PF
Wake Forest • 6'7" / 235 lbs
A big forward with good 3-point shooting skills, LaRavia has a role player's skill set as a selfless, keep-the-ball-moving player. Can create a bit off the dribble, good in transition, heady cutter. Solid scoring weapon to add next to Zion Williamson in NOLA -- though 41 feels like it may be the absolute floor for where he goes on draft night. Potential top-30 selection who has had a great pre-draft process.
Round 2 - Pick 12 (42nd overall)
Colorado • 6'8" / 200 lbs
Walker's efficiency ducked off as a sophomore, but his freshman efficiency as a spot-up shooter makes his game easily projectable given his 6-9 frame and length. He can be a two-way wing who crashes the glass hard, defends and knocks down outside shots.
Round 2 - Pick 13 (43rd overall)
Kansas • 6'6" / 220 lbs
Braun has good positional size and is an excellent shooter. At Kansas he was best peeling off screens or catching and shooting off hand-offs but he can run transition and has really nice athletic leaping ability.
Round 2 - Pick 14 (44th overall)
Nebraska • 6'6" / 175 lbs
McGowens was one of the very few bright spots for a 10-22 Nebraska team last season. He looked very comfortable with the ball in his hands and was at his best as a spot-up weapon. The 27.4% mark from 3-point range doesn't do justice to his shooting potential. He can be a dynamic offensive asset for a contender like the Hawks.
Round 2 - Pick 15 (45th overall)
Fresno State • 7'0" / 235 lbs
Charlotte skipped addressing the center position in Round 1 but gets a Round 1 talent at the position here at No. 45 overall. He is a top-30 prospect in my latest Big Board and someone whose playmaking and shooting at his size make him a legitimate frontcourt option for teams to consider late in the first round.
From Detroit Pistons
Round 2 - Pick 16 (46th overall)
Portland will pick No. 46 as part of a draft-eve trade that shipped Jerami Grant to the Trail Blazers, and they swapped second round picks with the Pistons meaning they go from pick 36 to 46. So with the pick they take a bet on Dom Barlow, who emerged as a potential first-round talent after a strong season playing with Overtime Elite in its inaugural season. The 6-9 forward is an explosive athlete who can shoot and space the floor. Has a chance to be a stretch-four type NBA talent because of his length and 7-1 wingspan.
From New Orleans Pelicans
Round 2 - Pick 17 (47th overall)
UCLA • 6'6" / 209 lbs
A year ago at this time, Juzang was considered a borderline first-rounder after leading UCLA to an unlikely run to the Final Four. His stock has cooled a bit, but his talent as a tough shot taker and maker has not. Love his production and toughness I saw in college and think his game has some shades of current Grizzlies star Dillon Brooks to it.
Round 2 - Pick 18 (48th overall)
Besson is a 21-year-old product from the NBL whose offensive arsenal alone may be enough to get him drafted. Crafty off the bounce, good shooter, knows how to dictate pace. Needs to improve his outside shot and decision-making but he plays a style that's conducive to winning in the NBA in the right situation.
From Sacramento Kings
Round 2 - Pick 19 (49th overall)
UCLA • 6'7" / 200 lbs
Cleveland reportedly acquired this pick on draft day and in this scenario immediately flips it for a big gamble. Watson really struggled to find a role for himself at UCLA last season but the former five-star recruit -- who was once the No. 1 prospect in California -- has good positional length and athleticism to possibly develop in time into an NBA contributor. Some time in the G League developing will be a necessity, but the Cavs have good wing depth and could afford to be patient.
From Philadelphia 76ers
Round 2 - Pick 20 (50th overall)
Keon Ellis SF
Alabama • 6'6" / 175 lbs
Ellis is a slasher who dives to the hoop, creates offense and pounds the glass at a high level for a guard. Not much of a playmaker for others, but he knows how to separate and get himself looks with solid touch around the basket. Could be an off-the-bench microwave scorer.
From Philadelphia 76ers
Round 2 - Pick 21 (51st overall)
Jordan Hall SF
Saint Joseph's • 6'7" / 215 lbs
Really like the game of Jordan Hall and believe he can develop into a quality rotation player in the NBA. He dominated at St. Joe's with a skill set like a guard with the size of a wing. Great playmaker at his position who can do a little of everything on offense.
Round 2 - Pick 22 (52nd overall)
Georgetown • Fr • 6'5" / 213 lbs
Would have liked to see Mohammed return for another season in college, but the former five-star recruit showed flashes at Georgetown that were promising enough to get him drafted. Good rebounder for his size and a fearless shot-taker, though he needs to improve his outside shot.
Round 2 - Pick 23 (53rd overall)
Rutgers • 6'6" / 245 lbs
Grant Williams' emergence as a quality rotation player for a contending Celtics team has him on track to cash in big in short order. Harper Jr. could add a similar element to the team as insurance, and while he isn't the same level defender, he has a 7-foot-1 wingspan and a nearly 40% hit rate from 3 that could help him carve out a role.
From Dallas Mavericks
Round 2 - Pick 24 (54th overall)
JD Davison PG
Alabama • 6'1" / 195 lbs
Davison is a former five-star recruit and arguably the most athletic guard prospect in the class, which could make a bet for the Wizards on him here at No. 54 palatable. He didn't shoot it well at Alabama and was a turnover machine, but the pedigree and leaping ability is intriguing.
Round 2 - Pick 25 (55th overall)
One of the most electric talents in the draft, Kamagate is also very raw -- and there are mixed opinions in the scouting community about him. He's a great leaper who can play above the rim as a lob threat and shot blocker but doesn't play with much feel and needs to fine-tune some of the finer points of his game to become an NBA contributor. Could wind up being a borderline first-rounder, though, so getting him at 55 would be so Warriors it hurts.
From Indiana Pacers
Round 2 - Pick 26 (56th overall)
Long wing with great shooting touch. Procida in Lega Serie A last season hit 38.3% from 3-point range and showed versatility running the offense as a pick-and-roll threat. He'll be a catch-and-shoot type option in the NBA with his size and shooting.
Round 2 - Pick 27 (57th overall)
Foster has done well for himself the last few months by trimming down and showing up to the combine in fantastic shape after producing at a high level with G League Ignite. The former five-star recruit is a tough player in the post who has been productive at every level. Plays with a high motor and continues to show improvement as a prospect.
From Phoenix Suns
Round 2 - Pick 28 (58th overall)
Illinois • Jr • 7'0" / 293 lbs
I'm not bullish on Cockburn's NBA prospects but I'm not dismissive of them, either. He'll almost certainly struggle to defend in space and I don't envision he develops into a starting center because of mobility concerns, but he's 7 foot and nearly 300 pounds and knows how to use that size to his advantage as a rebounder. His energy and physicality can be of use in the NBA even if it's in a small role.